Management & Labor

Judge Halts Illinois Pension Reforms

May 15, 2014
 

State workers and retirees can breathe a sigh of relief — at least for a while — after a judge on Wednesday delayed the start of a far-reaching overhaul of their pensions until it can be determined whether the measure passes legal muster.

Retiree groups and a union coalition called We Are One Illinois won a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in Sangamon County Circuit Court that will put the law on hold and prevent it from taking effect on June 1.

The groups argued the law is unconstitutional because it scales back benefits and raises retirement ages. Under the Illinois Constitution, public employee pensions are a “contractual relationship” with benefits that cannot be “diminished or impaired.”

“This is an important first step in our efforts to overturn this unfair, unconstitutional law and to protect retirement security for working and retired Illinois families,” said Michael T. Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the point man for the union coalition.

Judge John Belz recognized the retirees and others in the pension systems could suffer “irreparable harm” if the law is allowed to go forward while the constitutionality issues is still being fought out in the courts, according to his order. The case is expected to wind up in the Illinois Supreme Court.

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